Rich candle-carving tradition
Published/Last edited or updated: 17th February, 2021
Along with a proud tradition of creating floats for the annual Candle Festival, the often-overlooked Wat Si Phradu boasts one of the more architecturally interesting buildings found in any of Ubon’s temples.
Guarded by a colourful pair of yaksha demon-giants, the large modern Lao-style wihaan is topped by a broad tiered roof that cuts in various sharp angles, with the lowest parts stretching almost down to the ground. The back portion rises steeply before meeting a tall back wall covered in orange-brown ceramic plates displaying cheerful depictions of Isaan folk musicians and dancers.
The airy interior features an ornately painted dark-green and crimson ceiling over a vivid mural showing the Buddha walking a stairway while being supported by various heavenly devas. At the centre of this elaborate melange sits a large seated Buddha in the subduing Mara posture, with several smaller Buddha images and statues of the Buddha’s two chief disciples, Sariputta and Moggallana, standing on either side.
During the weeks leading up to the Candle Festival, locals come together at Wat Si Phradu to undertake the tedious work of carving countless small slabs of wax for the temple floats. During our visit, we were encouraged to sit down and try our hand at some wax carving. The wat’s elaborate floats often take one of the top three prizes during the festival.
At any time of year, you’ll notice crumbling plaster Buddha and elephant images strewn near some frangipani trees on a corner of the grounds, once used as the inner supports for the larger-than-life wax sculptures. Also note the ornate wooden spirit house propped up in its own pavilion with sides of colourful handwoven thread.
Address: Off Buraphanok Rd, a three-minute walk south of The Outside Inn, Ubon Ratchathani.
Coordinates (for GPS): 104º52'28.55" E, 15º14'9.21" N
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David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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